CPEC & concept of ecological civilization | By Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

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CPEC & concept of ecological civilization


CHINA-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) “stimulates” green economy, green transportation system and green channels of production in the country which would be further “consolidated” in its phase-II.

Most recently, Prime Minister Imran Khan while addressing a ceremony to mark the World Environment Day with co-partnership with the UN Environment Program urged the developed world to support those countries vulnerable to climate change and highlighted Pakistan’s contributions towards tackling global warming.

He announced four key “Ecosystem Restoration Initiatives” (ERI) on World Environment Day.

On the part of Pakistan, first billion trees plantation target has now been achieved under the Prime Minister’s flagship Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Plantation (TBTTP) project.

Bonn Challenge successfully resorted 0.3 million hectares of forest cover in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Protected Areas Initiative (PAI) successfully established 15 National Parks along with marine protected area and finally Green Financing initiatives introduced by Pakistan at global fora for ecosystem restoration fund have achieved tremendous success.

Even Pakistan has become pioneer in introducing green financing for the first time in the country’s history.

$500 million sovereign guarantee ‘Green Bonds’ was launched by Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) for two hydro-power projects.

Moreover, the zero carbon emission vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan under “Ecosystem Restoration Fund (ERF) has secured $180 million from the World Bank as initial funding and Rs12 billion will be spent by the government in this Fund to generate 200,000 daily waged nature protecting green jobs.

The “Pak-China Green Zone” Initiative under CPEC will be led by the Chinese Company Elion Resources Group that had successfully reversed Kubuqi Desert into a green area.

The Debt for Nature Swap may be a unique mechanism for using debt financing for ecological conservation as many countries are interested in initiating dialogue on the project.

In this connection, Recharge Pakistan Project would also be launched among others that help store 100 million acres of flood water to revive wood lands.

Ecological Civilization (EC) is a set of values and development concepts incorporated in the constitution of the People’s Republic of China in 2018.

It has now become a key driver in China’s transition to high quality development for the future. It is simultaneously a philosophy, vision and compass for a green and prosperous future.

For the last two decades, China has been taking numerous structural reforms to gradually control colossal impacts of the Climate Change and introduced a comprehensive “five-in one” holistic model for protecting and enhancing natural capital.

It is a comprehensive plan that is potentially capable of establishing ecological integrity at many levels from local to global. China always puts nature first which consolidates its EC policy.

The new EC approach is also primarily based on Chinese central government pledge of “Putting People First” which has actually opened up new quality of life options. It is based on a moderately prosperous lifestyle and living within ecological limits.

As China progresses toward the medium-term phase and beyond, to address 2035 and 2050 modernization and prosperity aspirations the EC can be expected to play a significant role which has already been included in the 12th and 13th Five Year Plans which has international orientation too i.e. with the United Nations Environment Program and at the UN General Assembly.

The global community is struggling with climate change, health of the oceans, biodiversity and ecosystem conservation and integrated sustainable development goals.

No country can succeed in fully addressing today’s global ecological and environmental crises on its own.

The magnitude of the problems currently exceeds our combined efforts to deal effectively with the situation.

The UN and many international organizations and scientific bodies have already warned us about the deteriorating climate change equations which urgently need integrated solutions.

Being a prominent regional expert of CPEC & BRI, I outline various essential ecological and environmentally sound development transformative measures comprising paradigm shift in  governance model by introducing effective legal reforms, economy and investment decision making with ecological orientations, massive people’s drive and  innovations, especially for the application of science and technology advances.

There is an urgent need to incorporate holistic policies, plans and projects in CPEC Phase-II for achieving the optimal level of green development, green finance, green economy, circular economy, low-carbon economy, ecological redlining, ecological restoration and construction, green urbanization, climate change mitigation and adaptation and sustainable development.

Shifting of investment and priorities toward ecological civilization in the ongoing projects of CPEC especially, in its phase-II may be initiated immediately.

CPEC deals with sectors such as transportation, water, energy, industry, tourism, parks, public health and education which should also be redesigned under flagship holistic model of the EC.

Consolidation of sustainable ecological progress, green sustainable production and consumption, improved environmental and ecologically-based spatial planning and designs for both urban and rural areas, industrial ecology based on no-waste advanced circular economy, green transportation and emphasis on green amenities including national parks and recreational areas should be part and parcel of the CPEC Phase-II to improve people’s health and accelerate green development throughout the country.

To achieve these goals and channels of green development and basic survival Chinese government has already agreed to further transform the CPEC into a model green belt and road initiative to protect and preserve natural environment important issues i.e.

environmental sustainability, climate resilience, renewable energy, green economic recovery, air pollution, water conservation and disaster risk reduction.

On its part Pakistan has already initiated an ambitious Protected Areas Initiative (PAI) under the flagship program ‘Clean Green Pakistan’ aiming to expand the country’s protected area from 13% to more than 15% by 2023 and create 5,000 green jobs across the country.

The world’s largest Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Program (TBTTP), Clean Green Pakistan (CGP), Protected Areas Initiative (PAI), Plastic-Free Pakistan (PFP) and Recharge Pakistan Initiative (RPI) are also slowly but surely transforming Pakistan into green country.

China has been pursuing policies of Green Special Economic Zones (GSEZs) and built Eco-Industrial Parks which has reshaped its development orientation by conserving its resource bank, of both energy and physical materials which may be replicated in the CPEC phase-II in the country.

A holistic climate artificial intelligence mechanism is must to resolve the problems related to the environment and biodiversity in the country which proposes attractive and environmentally friendly alternatives.

Installation of CO2 scrubbers, construction of Algal ponds and development of research stations across the roads, formation of corridor of knowledge and introducing the concept of carbon canopy may be value-addition.

In this context, the Belt and Road Ecological and Environmental Cooperation Plan” may provide knowledge and wisdom to control climate change.

Moreover, Chinese “Concept of Ecological Civilization and Strengthen Policy Coordination” will also translate positive progress and promising results by actively deepening bilateral dialogue, exchange and cooperation with countries along the Belt and Road, reinforcing eco-environmental information support services and advancing cooperation on environmental standards, technologies and industries.